There is a strong correlation between the development of civilization on this planet and our ability to apply different forms of energy on the problems of life. Optical energy has recently become available in a form and at intensities which can be used for an expanding number of applications. This article examines the opportunities and current developments of this new form of industrial energy. It identifies some of the innovative applications which are being developed and discusses how engineers are adapting to the challenge. Underlining these surging developments are the growing problems associated with the lack of engineers trained in the use of optical energy.